Biden administration to require COVID-19 vaccination of all nursing home staff

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The Biden administration will require nursing home staff across the country to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding, a White House spokesman said.

The requirement would come in the form of a regulation issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Administration health officials spoke to CNN first, and the news was later confirmed by White House deputy press secretary Chris Meagher.

Vaccination rates among nursing home staff are lagging, threatening the progress the nation has made in protecting the vulnerable elderly. 

More than seven months after becoming eligible, only about 60 percent of staff in nursing homes and long-term care facilities nationwide are partially or fully vaccinated, according to federal data compiled by CMS.

Only about one-quarter of nursing homes had at least 75 percent of staff vaccinated, which is the benchmark goal the industry has set for vaccinations in facilities.

Nursing homes have been devastated by COVID-19. Residents make up only about 1 percent of the U.S. population, but account for more than 20 percent of all deaths nationwide.

According to Medicare data, the disease has killed more than 133,000 residents and nearly 2,000 staff members. That’s also likely an undercounted figure, since facilities only began reporting at the end of May 2020.

The authorized vaccines have been shown to greatly reduce serious illness and death in elderly people, but the delta variant is fueling new concerns. A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday showed vaccine effectiveness is waning in nursing home residents as the variant spreads. 

The announcement is part of the administration’s increasingly firm approach to increasing vaccination rates in the country.

The Department of Veterans Affairs late last month was the first federal agency to require certain employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and the Department of Defense this week said it will require members of the military to be vaccinated.

President BidenJoe BidenUtah ‘eager’ to assist with resettling Afghan refugees: governor Pelosi presses moderate Democrats amid budget standoff Democrat on Biden’s claim some Afghans didn’t want to leave earlier: ‘Utter BS’ MORE is also requiring all federal workers and contractors to sign forms attesting they’ve been vaccinated, or be subject to mandatory masking, distancing and testing rules.

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